Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Exposing the puppet masters behind the puppets


Hurrah for revolution and more cannon-shot!
A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot.
Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again!
The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on.
- W.B. Yeats -

This weekend, your intrepid Octopus stirred up controversy within our ranks. It started with this post by our friend and colleague, Captain Fogg, who derived this post from our friend and colleague, Lindsay of Majikthise, about the latest Glenn Beckism. As Lindsay states:

In the clip, Beck claims that Americorps has "just received half a trillion dollars in funding." What the hell is he talking about? […] It's even fu nnier that Beck's guests played along with the half-trillion claim. Surely they knew it was false. This wasn't just an incidental mistake, it was the hook for Beck's crazy conspiracy theory.

No argument! Except that Glenn Dreck can spin lies and deceptions until the cows come home. Does this mean we should preoccupy ourselves with confutations every night after sunset? And what of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and the other dissemblers? Do we redouble our efforts and counter every lie from every dissembler in the Milky Way?

No doubt, Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh offend us on many levels. Deceptions offend us. Sneers and jeers offend us. Ridiculing a popular actor with Parkinson’s disease offends us. Accusing 9/11 widows of profiting from their husbands’ deaths offends us. They offend by invoking a deep emotional response within us: They remind us of schoolyard bullies who torment victims for sadistic pleasure. They push the boundaries of uncivil discourse deeper into unchartered cesspools. Outrageous people say outrageous things ... just to grab attention.

Here is my question: Do we allow fools to lead us by the nose when we pay too much attention? Do we aid and abet the viral spread of these messages? Lindsay offers a reasonable albeit expected
response (August 29, 2009 at 06:50 PM):

It's a very tough question. I think it's one of those strategic decisions that can only be evaluated retrospectively … John Kerry initially ignored the Swift Boat Liars. In retrospect, it seems like he should have hit back hard and early …

In the face of uncertainty, my instinct is to counter the lies because I think that's an inherently worthwhile pursuit. I think it's worth knowing what these people are up to, even if the exposure gives them a little extra notoriety.

Captain Fogg agrees:

I don't think we can say Beck would go away if we ignored him. I think history proves over and over again that hate and bigotry have to be confronted.

Yet, I can’t help but ask this nagging question: If we pay too much attention to the puppet, do we ignore the puppet masters behind the puppet? Does the court jester divert our attention from the secret usurpers who plot against the throne with steal and guile?

Here is a little noticed
footnote in American history. In 1934, retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler testified before Congress about a alleged plot to overthrow President Roosevelt. Although no prosecutions followed his testimony, one Gerald McGuire did attempt to recruit Butler to lead a 500,000 man march on Washington that would topple the President. An alleged conspirator was the Liberty League, which slandered FDR as a Communist who surrounded himself with Jews and whose membership included the plutocrats of American industry: U.S. Steel, Ge neral Motors, General Foods, Standard Oil, Colgate, Heinz Foods, Chase National Bank, and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. Names that figured prominently in the conspiracy: J. P. Morgan, Irénée DuPont, the Mellon and Remington families, and Prescott Bush.

Right-wing Republicanism was born in 1932, and the aim was to dismantle the New Deal and restore laissez-faire economics. Today, we are witnessing the same struggle against powerful interests, or as John Hoefle states in
The Fascists Versus FDR, Then And Now: “This battle is not, as some would have us believe, a historical artifact, but an ongoing fight between a world which desires to be free, and a parasitic oligarchy [that] wishes to rule over us as if we were cattle.” The oligarchs of the 1930s may be long gone but their heirs and assigns live among us. Who are they?

Maybe we should start with
William McGuire of UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s leading health insurer. According to Forbes’ list of highest paid CEOs, his pay of $124.8 million would cover the average health insurance premiums of 34,000 people. Two years earlier, William McGuire received $1.7 billion in pay and bonuses … roughly the health insurance premiums of 463,000 people. Why should one man be worth 463,000?

How about the
Walton family, perhaps the most influential family in America with a combined net worth of more than $100 billion. They have used their Wal-Mart PAC to avoid paying taxes, block environmen tal regulations, resist corporate transparency, hinder workers rights, stop port security, thwart tighter regulations on food safety, oppose estate taxes, and kill universal healthcare. They are the quintessential state capitalists whose self-aggrandizing exercise of power leaves us poorer.

In contrast, Glenn Beck is the quintessential schlamiel who spins malapropisms and misspelled words from an alcohol-addled brain. When we focus on the village idiot of
Pottersville, we ignore Mr. Potter at our peril. If Glenn Beck ever had booze on his breath, William McGuire and the Walton family have blood on their hands.

Thus, your tentacle-entangled Octopus would like to see the progressive blogosphere spend more time investigating the puppet masters and less time head-butting their puppets.

(Cross-posted at
The Swash Zone.)

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  • It's true that madmen like Beck and limbaugh could easily be replaced by the "puppet masters" but how do you get at those string pullers when it's too late to get anyone to believe you, much less pay attention?

    If we had anything like a free and independent press we wouldn't be having this discussion, but a free press never worked out as intended. Corporate media are never going to put themselves out of business by telling the truth and if they do, they're bought up by Murdoch. It's not only corporate censorship, but misinformation, disinformation, propaganda and outright lies that have become the paradigm.

    Laissez faire markets give us monopolies and diminished choices and that's just what we have got. A really independent news source doesn't have a chance and after a critical point is passed, which has occurred, there aren't enough people not brainwashed into rejecting truth and reason to matter any more.

    It's easy to think that the web gives us power, but it gives as readily to them and they drown us out with impunity. Après nous le déluge.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 3:22 PM  

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